2012 November – Soft Furnishings


1. Linen – is a textile made from the fibres of the flax plant. That texture appear to be some of the oldest in the world, their history goes back many thousands of years. Textiles in linen weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other no-flax fibres are also loosely referred to as “linen”. The collective term “linens” is still often used generically to describe a class of woven and even knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles. The name linen is retained because traditionally, it was used for many of those items, like: apron, bags, towels, napkins, bed linen, linen tablecloth, chair cover, clothes or curtains.

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2. Silk – is a natural protein fibre, some of the form which can be woven onto textiles. The protein fibre of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colours.  It is often used for clothing, upholstery, wall coverings, window treatments, rugs, bedding and wall hangings.

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3. Velvet – is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel. Velvet can be either synthetic or natural. Velvet can be made from different kinds of fibres, traditionally silk, but also linen, mohair and wool.  All types of velvet can be effectively dyed with deep colours and are most popular in dark shades that highlight the rich pile of the fabric. It is used for clothing, upholstery, window treatments, draperies and cushions. Daytime sleepers will love having velvet curtains. The thickness of the fabric will block all light from entering the room and provide almost total darkness.

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4. Chintz – are glazed calico clothes printed with flowers and other patterns in different colours. Chintz was originally a woodblock printed, painted or stained calico produced in India from 1600 to 1800 and popular for bed, covers and draperies. Europeans at first produced reproductions of Indian designs and later added original patterns. A well-know make was toile de Jouy, which was manufactured in Jouy, France, between 1700 and 1843. Modern chintz usually consists of bright overall floral patterns printed on a light background but there are some popular patterns on black backgrounds as well.

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5. Jacquard – is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801 that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask matelasse. The loom is controlled by punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design.  Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order. Each position in the card corresponds to a “Bolus” hook, which can either be raised or stopped dependent on whether the hole is punched out of the card or the card is solid. The hook raises or lowers the harness, which carries and guides he wrap thread so that the weft will either lie above or below it. The sequence of raised and lowered threads is what creates the pattern. Modern jacquard looms are controlled by computers in place of the original punched cards and can have thousands of hooks. Jacquard fabrics are mainly used for upholstery and as drapery fabrics.

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6. Calico – is a plain-woven textile made from unbleached and often not fully processed cotton.  The fabric is less coarse and thick than canvas or denim, but owing to its unfinished and undyed appearance, it is very cheap.  Originally from the city of Kozhikode, Kerala, India and it was made by the traditional weavers called chaliyans. The raw fabric was dyed and printed in bright hues and calico prints became popular in Europe.  Early Indian chintzes glazed calico with large floral pattern, were primarily produced by painting techniques. Later, the hues were applied by means of wooden blocks and it was the wooden block printing that was used in London.  Calico is used for aprons and patchwork quilts but also in craft projects. Furthermore you can use calico to make curtains, the fabric comes in many colours and it is inexpensive. It is a good material for pillowcases or clothes too.

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The purpose of lining is to protect drapes and interior spaces from damaging UV rays, the rotting of silks, adverse light conditions (dim-out & blackout lining) and fading coloured dyes. Lining adds weight to curtains to help them hang better, giving a more professional and luxurious appearance. For some types of drapery the reverse side is sometimes visible. In this case lining is essential for a finished look and decorative lining fabric becomes an optional feature. Linings are usually pale taupe, ivory or white in colour. White is also a versatile option, because it will not show through even the lightest coloured curtain fabric. For curtains styles where the lining is visible, like jabots (gathered side panels) and roll-up shades, the colour of the lining can be a decorative feature. A plain curtain fabric and patterned lining, or a complementarily coloured lining is an option in this case. There are several types of specialist drapery lining fabric available.

1.  One option is black-out lining. This is designed to block out as much light as possible when the curtains are closed. It is a little more expensive than regular lining fabric, but it is worth it for people who prefer room to be completely dark when sleeping or watching television, for example.

2.  Some lining fabric is treated to repel water. This is a good option when you have old house with leaky windows as it is prevents staining. People in cold climates may wish to purchase special insulated lining. Used with heavy draperies, this lining helps keep cold air out and it can cut down considerably on heating costs.

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Interlining is a soft, fleecy type fabric which is sewn between the main fabric and the lining of curtains, blinds, drapes and window treatments. Interlining is available in different fabrics and textures. The colour does not matter unless it shows through the drape or lining material. Interlining provides insulation; heavy, formal drapes are often interlined. However, in draperies made of lightweight, open-weave fabric, adding an interlining helps to soften the light that filters through. Draperies do not have to have a lining, unless they are interlined. Then they always need a lining.

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1. Bump interlining is a heavy, loosely woven fabric which is brushed to give a lofty feel. It can be as 100% natural cotton or a blended fabric of natural cotton and a man-made fibre, usually viscose.


2. Domette is a twill weave brushed fabric which is lighter weight alternative interlining to bump. Manufacturers assign gsm (grams per metre) to each interlining. The higher gsm numbers are a medium weight interlining which is suitable for curtains, drapes or blinds while the lower gsm numbers are the light-weight interlining suitable for such as valances, swags and tails.


Fire retardant fabrics are textiles that are naturally more resistant to fire than others through chemical treatment or manufactured fireproof fibres. Fabric flammability is an important textile issue, especially for stage drapery that will be used in a public space such a school, theatre, restaurant, place or worship, convention centre, special event venue or any other area which fire potential poses a risk to the general public. Fire retardant fabrics are normally treated to different British Standards (BS) and this depends on the end of usage of the fabrics. BS 476 is a fire treatment for fabrics that are for wall hanging and must only be used as for that purpose, where as CRIB 5 is a fabric fire treatment for upholstery and must only be used for furnishing and upholstery purpose, even though both fabrics have been treated for fire retardant.



“The eyes are the window of the soul”  (Unknown)

A window treatment must be appropriate within the space; not overdone in a room that is short on architectural details and not skimpy in a room of a grand scale. Most upholstery-weight fabrics don’t have a soft enough hand for a swag, jabots, soft valances or shirring that all require natural drapability. Window treatments are not only an important focal point within a space; they also have a practical use, shutting out light and keeping in warmth, as well as a degree of privacy. By contrast curtains can be for display rather than for function and was my choice for this window treatment. Burgundy walls intensify the glow of a fireplace and warm, plain colour of silk fabric creates cosy and decorative focal point within a space. This room is the perfect spot to settle in for the night next to a warm fire. What is more, my window treatment designs allow the light to filter through and create the look of height and depth to a room. It also adds unique, personal flavour which makes your house feel like home. I have accentuated the elegance of the room by creating an asymmetrical swag, which makes it look very elegant and stylish, but also add interest to the room.




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